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The Harvard Undergraduate Queer Advocates launched a petition requesting increased access to gender-inclusive restrooms in major academic and residential buildings on campus in early April.
As of Wednesday, the petition had received 244 individual signatures and been endorsed by 28 organizations. The petition is the first major initiative of HUQAD, which launched this spring to support advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights on campus.
The petition calls on Harvard to commit to establishing at least one gender-inclusive bathroom in buildings including Sever Hall, Center for Government and International Studies South, University Hall, Harvard Art Museums, and the Littauer Center of Public Administration by the end of the fall semester.
It also requests for the College to develop a “public-facing plan” to expand access to gender-inclusive bathrooms in the Barker Center, Lamont Library, and Science Center. Finally, it asks for a “bi-monthly stakeholder meeting” to discuss progress on bathroom access.
“We believe all these achievable steps can increase transparency in the College’s ongoing efforts to expand gender-inclusive restrooms, alleviate anxiety among student populations who rely on gender-inclusive restrooms, and ensure all can safely access restrooms without disrupting their education,” the petition reads.
The petition was sent last week to administrators, including faculty deans of undergraduate houses, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and University President-elect Claudine Gay, and current Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow.
Organizers wrote in an email they have not yet received a response from any of the dozens of College and University administrators they contacted.
Aaryan L. Rawal ’26, the co-president of HUQAD, said they believe “Harvard’s campus is just architecturally not designed” to provide wide access to gender-inclusive bathrooms.
“The petition was kind of born out of a simple idea that folks deserve to have access to restrooms that they feel comfortable with and that they feel safe in,” Rawal said.
Rawal, who prefers using gender-inclusive bathrooms, said they have sometimes struggled to find them on campus.
“If there is one, it might just be a single stall, it might be buried in a corner somewhere, it might not be well labeled, it might be super difficult to find,” they added.
According to a Harvard spokesperson, the College is currently focusing on increasing access to gender-inclusive restrooms through House Renewal, a $1 billion project launched in 2012 to renovate all undergraduate houses.
The spokesperson also pointed to the Office of Gender Equity’s Gender Inclusive Restroom Mapping project, which outlines the locations of gender-inclusive restrooms in the Cambridge, Allston, and Longwood campuses.
The project included two phases. The first phase took inventory of gender-inclusive restrooms in residential, academic, and administrative buildings, while the second phase created a web-based application that marks the locations of gender-inclusive restrooms at the University.
Rawal said they “fully acknowledge” there have been “some wonderful and really impactful efforts” to improve access to gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus in recent years.
“What we’re really trying to say with this petition is to basically push admin to make sure that there’s a more concrete and a more transparent plan so that folks can actually access gender-inclusive restrooms a little bit more easily,” they said.
Neha Kalra ’26, the vice president of HUQAD, said though organizers have not received an official response, the petition has the backing of multiple offices of the College.
“The letter, as far as we know, is stagnated,” they said. “And we hope that they’re working on it and preparing a response to us, and we recognize that these things take time.”
—Staff writer Hana Rostami can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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